MSFO conductor prepares to ‘Go West’

Matt Burkhartt | Staff Photographer
Music School Festival Orchestra Director Timothy Muffitt leads members of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and some MSFO students in rehearshal for Go West! Wednesday in the Amphitheater.

Baton blazing like Annie Oakley’s guns, Music School Festival Orchestra Director Timothy Muffitt is ready to head west.

On Saturday at 8:15 p.m. in the Amphitheater, Muffitt will conduct both the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and five students from the MSFO in this season’s inter-arts collaboration of Go West!

Muffitt said that he is excited to be a part of the magic that is created when the arts — visual arts, dance, voice and orchestra — are intertwined.

“These are colleagues that I’ve gotten know in my 18 years here whose work I’ve admired greatly. Now we get to collaborate,” Muffitt said.

“In the past, I’ve done many collaborations with dance, voice, opera and theater, but it’s just really a great sense to have us all coming together. We’ve all become friends over the years, and I admire everyone’s work so much. This is a uniquely Chautauquan creation and event. It’s great to be a part of that.”

With such a rich and diverse history woven into the story of the West, Saturday’s encompassing repertoire will reflect the many themes associated with the region. Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 from “The New World,” Aaron Copland’s “Buckaroo Holiday” and a selection from Chautauqua favorite Ricky Ian Gordon’s “Grapes of Wrath” are just some of the many pieces that will be featured in Saturday’s collaboration that Muffitt said can hold their own.

“Some of it is fun. Some of it is funny. Some of it is deeply powerful and moving,” Muffitt said.

“There is a lot of history, great music, folk music and classical concert music. It’s a strong collection.”

While audiences have grown accustomed to expecting an excellent show from each of the represented groups, Muffitt said that, while Saturday’s show may be thrilling, audiences are in for a real treat — especially from Andrew Borba, the program’s director.

“Part of the fun is that the expectations will be sidestepped,” Muffitt said. 

“Andrew has put together a creative, inspiring and innovative show. It is very much a fresh look at American westward expansion and I think what people can always expect are terrific performances from the great artists here at Chautauqua and a remarkably creative vision from Andrew.”